Säveltäjä Kaija Saariaho.

HPO to premiere new orchestral piece by Kaija Saariaho in May

The extraordinary spring season of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra culminates in the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s latest piece, Vista, a performance by one of the most sought-after violinists of our time, Joshua Bell and a performance by HPO’s artist-in-residence for this season – pianist Kirill Gerstein. All of the concerts in May will be performed at the Helsinki Music Centre without a live audience and livestreamed on the orchestra’s website and HKO Screen mobile app.

May gets underway with the HPO's longest-running tradition: the orchestra has performed a May Day Matinee no less than 136 times before. The first May Day concert was held in 1883 at the Seurahuone hotel (now Helsinki City Hall) and only once has the May Day Matinee had to be cancelled due to exceptional circumstances in 1917. The Uusi Kipparikvartetti quartet and conductor Emilia Hoving will be responsible for the joyful atmosphere of this spring’s May Day Matinee. The concert will be broadcast live on Yle Radio 1.

Conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will lead the Franco-Russian programme in the concert on 7 May. The soloist for Shostakovich's cello concerto has been picked from the HPO's own ranks: cellist Senja Rummukainen was a finalist in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019.

Kaija Saariaho’s new orchestral piece Vista will receive its world premiere on 12 May led by HPO’s chief conductor Susanna Mälkki. Commissioned jointly by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the piece will be performed next in Berlin.

“Vista lives up to its name as a piece that reveals new horizons. The ever unfolding world of Kaija Saariaho’s soundschape is rich and broad, and the orchestral palette is novel. It’s a tremendous honor and joy that Saariaho’s newest piece is written for us”, Susanna Mälkki says.

Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto is also heard in this concert, played by this season’s artist-in-residence Kirill Gerstein.

Conductor Paolo Bortolameolli will be visiting the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time on 21 May, bringing with him a classic symphony by Beethoven and contemporary music by Unsuk Chi. The soloist for the fantasy tale-inspired Akrostichon-Wortspiel will be soprano Sumi Hwang.

The concert season ends with a visit by acclaimed American violinist Joshua Bell on 27 May. In the concert led by Susanna Mälkki, Bell will interpret Henryk Wieniawski’s virtuosic Violin Concerto No. 2.


HPO concert programme, May 2021

Saturday 1 May 2021 at 2pm May Day Matinee

Emilia Hoving, conductor 
Uusi Kipparikvartetti: 
Petri Bäckström 
Jouni Bäckström 
Tuukka Haapaniemi 
Sampo Haapaniemi 


Friday 7 May 2021 at 7pm

Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor
Senja Rummukainen, cello

Darius Milhaud: Chamber Symphony no 5
Dmitri Šostakovitš: Cello Concerto no 1 
Henri Dutilleux: Mystère de l'instant



Wednesday 12 May 2021 at 7pm

Susanna Mälkki, conductor 
Kirill Gerstein, piano 

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor 
Kaija Saariaho: Vista (premiere)


Friday 21 May 2021 at 7pm

Paolo Bortolameolli, conductor 
Sumi Hwang, soprano 

Unsuk Chin: Akrostichon-Wortspiel
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 



Thursday 27 May 2021 at 7pm 

Susanna Mälkki, conductor 
Joshua Bell, violin

Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 2 
Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 “The Great” 


Photo: Christophe Abramowitz